Don't ever expect Carlos Santana to put video games before baseball.
Near the end of September, with the Philadelphia Phillies in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, Santana decided it was time to send a message to his gamer teammates who thought it would be a good idea to get in some rounds of Fortnite during a game against the Atlanta Braves.
Santana grabbed a bat, walked into a room in the team's clubhouse where the video games were being played, and smashed the television to ensure Fortnite wasn't played again during the final two days of the season.
"I see a couple players - I don't want to say names - they play video games during the game," Santana told Jeff Passan of ESPN. "We come and lose too many games, and I feel like they weren't worried about it. Weren't respecting their teammates or coaches or the staff or the (front) office. It's not my personality. But I'm angry because I want to make it good."
The Phillies were 11 games above .500 at the beginning of August and led the National League East before going 21-34 down the stretch. A disastrous 8-20 September caused them to finish the season at 80-82.
According to Passan, the Phillies acknowledged that Santana's outburst was indeed caused by players' excessive gaming but had nothing to do with his trade to the Seattle Mariners in December. Santana was eventually moved again by Seattle to the Cleveland Indians.
"Carlos is one of my favorite players and favorite people in the league," Phillies general manager Matt Klentak explained. "He posts every day, and I really admire the way he plays the game. It was tough to include him in the trade with Seattle, but sometimes you have to trade good players to acquire other good players."
Phillies pitcher Jake Arrieta disputed that his teammates played video games during games last season. He did acknowledge that Santana smashed a TV after the third-last game of the season, but said it happened "late at night, well after everybody had left," according to Scott Lauber of the Philly Inquirer.
"I don't believe guys were playing video games during the game, because that's something that I wouldn't allow and I know a majority of the guys on the team wouldn't allow," Arrieta added.
The Phillies are attempting to remodel their clubhouse and build a more positive and committed culture, according to manager Gabe Kapler. Santana expressed his gratitude to the organization and insisted there were no hard feelings about being traded just one season after signing a free-agent deal.
"I liked everybody," Santana said of the Phillies. "Matt Klentak is great. I don't have a problem with anybody. They're great. They worry about their players. Everything is fine, positive. I worry about baseball. I worry about playing hard every day and helping my teammates win.
"I like Gabe because he's a very strong guy. It was tough for him, especially his first year. But sometimes the manager cannot control the clubhouse because everybody (is) doing their thing."